Battle of Hog Island

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

May 28. –Yesterday a party of the American army at Cambridge, to the number of between two and three hundred men, had orders to drive off the live stock from Hog and Noddle’s islands. In attempting to carry out these orders, they were attacked by the king’s troops. The combat began on Hog island about five o’clock in the afternoon, and continued almost incessantly till midnight. The attack was made with cannon, swivels, and small arms, from an armed schooner, sloop, and eight or ten barges, upon our people, who had small arms only, but were very advantageously posted by Colonel Putnam, who got to them just in season to station and command them properly. He placed them in a ditch up to their wastes in water, and covered by the bank, to their necks. The schooner, sloop, and boats full of men, came within twelve or fifteen rods of them, and gave our people a fine opportunity to place their shot well. About midnight the fire ceased a little, and our people retreated to the main land, where they were soon after joined by Captain Foster with two field-pieces, which were planted on the way of Winnesimit ferry. At daylight this morning, the combat was renewed, and as the schooner passed the ferry way, she was briskly attacked by our people, with the field-pieces and small arms, which soon clearing her deck, she drifted on shore, where our people set fire to her, and she blew up, notwithstanding the utmost endeavors of the people in the boats to tow her off, and save her from destruction. In this they exposed themselves much to our fire, and suffered greatly. When they found the schooner was lost, they with difficulty towed off the sloop, much disabled, and retired to their den; and thus ended the combat. This afternoon our people got out of the wreck twelve four-pounders, six swivels, and every thing else that was valuable, without molestation; they afterwards destroyed or removed from both the islands all the stock, a large quantity of hay, and burned all the barns and houses.

All this was done in sight, and as we may say, under the noses of the whole fleet and army at Boston without molestation. The killed of the enemy (General Gage’s crew of enemies to the English constitution) they themselves allow to be more than one hundred, besides wounded; others, who have good opportunity to know, say their killed and wounded exceed three hundred, and I believe they have suffered as much as in their precipitate flight from Lexington on the memorable 19th of April. Our killed none! wounded three! Heaven apparently, and most evidently, fights for us, covers our heads in the day of battle, and shields our people from the assaults of our common enemies. What thanks can speak our gratitude!

These interpositions, and our determined resolutions, may perhaps make our haughty enemies glad to quit their unjust professions for a cooler and more calm retreat, in some distant quarter of the globe; and leave us peaceably to enjoy those rights and liberties which God in our nature has given us, as our inalienable right, and which they are most unjustly endeavoring to wrest from us by violence. 1

 

1 Virginia Gazette, June 24, and Pennsylvania Journal, June 21.

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